Imagine, for a moment, that each disc in between your vertebrae has a similar structure to a jelly donut: a tough outer portion (called the annulus) that contains within it a softer gelatinous core (called the nucleus).
If we took one of those donuts and began to "squish" it, the jelly center would begin to come out of the hole, right?
If that jelly were to protrude up to about 3-4mm, that is called a "protrusion." These are the most mild in severity and respond very well to chiropractic treatment.
If the jelly to ooze out even further to the 7-8mm range, that is called a "prolapse" and chiropractic can still help many of these.
If the jelly gets spewed completely out of the donut and is not all over the place, that is called a "sequestered" disc. Surgery is typically the best option for these.
How do you know if you have a herniated disc? Usually it will symptoms of burning, numbness, or tingling into one or more extremities. You may also notice muscle weakness and/or fluttering/twitching of certain muscles.
Of course, you want to get officially examined and diagnosed by a professional, and your doctor may also order additional diagnostic imaging to confirm if you have a disc herniation.
Diagnosing and treating a disc herniation is on a case by case basis, and chiropractic care can often help!